Cardinals Advance To NFC Final Print
Written by mark   
Saturday, 10 January 2009 18:51
NFL Headline News

Playoff Shocker

Charlotte,N.C - The Arizona Cardinals were expected by most to be easy prey in another futile trip to the East Coast.

Bet NFL Future Odds

Instead, Kurt Warner and the Cardinals are a victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance - with a big assist from Jake Delhomme and the bumbling Carolina Panthers.

The once discarded Warner was steady in a 33-13 rout of the Panthers on Saturday night, throwing two touchdown passes, while Delhomme threw five interceptions and lost a fumble.

The target of jokes for years with their history of ineptitude, the Cardinals became the last NFC team to reach the conference championship since the 1970 merger with a win few saw coming.

Entering as a 10-point underdog and ridiculed for their 0-5 record in the Eastern time zone this season, Arizona (11-8) raced to a 27-7 halftime lead and cruised past the mistake-prone Panthers (12-5), who were the league's only unbeaten team at home in the regular season.

Instead, Delhomme turned in a brutal performance on his 34th birthday. Just one shy of the NFL playoff record for interceptions, Delhomme became the first player to have five picks in the playoffs since Oakland's Rich Gannon in the 2003 Super Bowl against Tampa Bay.

He completed only 17 of 34 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. His woes made Steve Smith a non-factor. The Pro Bowl receiver didn't have his first catch until the final minute of the third quarter.

Smith caught a meaningless 8-yard touchdown pass from Delhomme with 50 seconds left, when the Cardinals had already begun looking forward to either visiting the New York Giants or hosting Philadelphia on Jan. 18.

Arizona had been embarrassed when they ventured far from home, but the closest they came was a 27-23 loss here in October when the Cardinals blew a two-touchdown lead.

There would be no suspense this time.

While Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin (hamstring) sat out, Fitzgerald more than made up for the loss. The 6-foot-3 receiver had eight catches for a team playoff-record 166 yards while shredding the Panthers' leaky secondary.

The Cardinals' defense stopped Carolina's potent running game, too. A week after shutting down Atlanta's Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams was held to 63 yards in a crushing loss for the Panthers, the No. 2 seed in the NFC who had visions of reaching their third NFC title game in six years.

Instead, Warner stole the stage. A decade after his storybook MVP season in winning the Super Bowl with St. Louis a year after he was teammates with Delhomme in NFL Europe, the 37-year-old Warner has another team on the brink of a most unlikely title.

And it was a stunningly ugly performance by Delhomme.

Entering with a 5-2 postseason record, Delhomme's 95.0 playoff passer rating coming in was better than any other quarterback in this season's playoffs.

But Delhomme threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half, making poor reads, holding the ball too long and giving the Cardinals great field position.

Defensive end Antonio Smith stripped Delhomme and recovered the ball at the Carolina 13 late in the first quarter. Two plays later Edgerrin James' 4-yard touchdown put the Cardinals ahead to stay 14-7.

Next possession, rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off Delhomme at the goal line, leading to the first of four field goals by Neil Rackers.

Delhomme started hearing boos when he was intercepted by Gerald Hayes midway through the second quarter. Warner turned that into another touchdown, finding a streaking Fitzgerald for a 29-yard pass for a stunning 27-7 halftime lead that silenced the once towel-waving crowd.

It was a horrible performance for the Panthers in front of their ailing owner. Jerry Richardson visited with Smith on the field before the game before watching from a suite as he awaits a heart transplant that's limited his daily activities and halted his travel on the road with the team.

The Panthers played like the only unbeaten team at home in the regular season for only the opening drive. Williams had a 31-yard run, setting up rookie Jonathan Stewart's 9-yard touchdown scamper for a 7-0 lead.

Bet NFL Future Odds 

Posted: 1/10/08 11:55PM ET

 

NFL Team Pages

Top NFL Public Bets

#1 306 Pittsburgh Steelers 95%
#2 323 Dallas Cowboys 88%
#3 311 Buffalo Bills 85%
#4 307 Indianapolis Colts 80%
#5 330 San Francisco 49ers 80%
#6 309 Cleveland Browns 72%
#7 316 Atlanta Falcons 72%
#8 131 Denver Broncos 72%
#9 318 Minnesota Vikings 68%
#10 319 San Diego Chargers 67%
View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

Recent NFL Discussions

NFL Futures

NFL TEAM CONFERENCE ODDS CURRENT
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 1/1
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 1/1
DENVER BRONCOS 5/2
GREEN BAY PACKERS 5/2
DALLAS COWBOYS 9/2
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 15/2
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 10/1
DETROIT LIONS 10/1
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 14/1
ARIZONA CARDINALS 25/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com